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Best East Coast Cities for Families 2017

By: Chris Salviati
February 3, 2017

At Apartment List, we know that searching for a home is tough, and the decision can be even more complicated for families than it is for singles. We've identified a number of factors important to families with young children and combined data from various sources to produce our family-friendliness index. We recently published the results of this analysis for over 500 cities nationwide, and found our Top 10 comprised primarily of cities in Texas and the Midwest. Of course, there are great options for families across the nation, and we've decided to follow up our initial post with a list of the best east coast cities for families.

Johns Creek, GA ranks best on the East Coast

The Atlanta suburb of Johns Creek tops our list of best east coast cities for families, with great scores for safety, affordability, and child friendliness; nearby Roswell, GA also makes the list at #8. Notably, six of the top 10 east coast cities are in New England, including three close suburbs of Boston.


Our index is calculated based on a weighting of 4 factors that are of particular importance to families:

  • Safety (35%): We used FBI data to rank cities by the total number of violent crimes and property crimes per 100,000 residents. 1

  • Housing Affordability (30%): We used Census data on median gross rent as a percentage of household income as an indicator of housing affordability in each city. This measure takes into account not only how expensive rents are, but how well they are balanced with earnings. 2

  • Education Quality (25%): Comparing schools across different states can be challenging due to differing education requirements. We have chosen to use data on high school graduation rates, collected by the Department of Education, as a proxy for overall school quality. Cities were ranked by the graduation rates of their respective public school districts. 3

  • Child Friendliness (10%): Communities with a greater percentage of children tend to be more family friendly, so we used Census data to score cities based on the percentage of the population under age 18. 4

Our family-friendliness index is calculated using the factor weights listed above, and cities are ranked and graded based on that overall score. To see full results for over 500 cities, please see our original post.

  1. FBI, “Offenses Known to Law Enforcement,” Crime in the United States 2015, accessed at: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2015/crime-in-the-u.s.-2015/tables/table-8/table_8_offenses_known_to_law_enforcement_by_state_by_city_2015.xls/view.
  2. Census Bureau, “B25071: Median Gross Rent as a Percentage of Income in the Past 12 Months,” 2015 ACS, accessed at https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_15_1YR_B25071&prodType=table.
  3. U.S. Department of Education, “SY 2014-2015 Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate,” EDFacts Data Files, accessed at: https://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/edfacts/data-files/index.html. Data for California from: California Department of Education, “2014-2015 Cohort Outcome Data,” CALPADS, accessed at: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/sd/sd/filescohort.asp. Data for Texas from: Texas Education Agency, “Class of 2015 Four-Year Rates,” Completion, Graduation, and Dropouts Data Search, accessed at: http://tea.texas.gov/acctres/dropcomp/years.html.
  4. Census Bureau, “S0101: Age and Sex,” 2015 ACS, accessed at https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_15_1YR_B25071&prodType=table.

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Chris is a senior housing economist at Apartment List, where he conducts research on economic trends in the housing market. Chris previously worked as a research assistant at the Federal Reserve and an economic consultant, and he has BA and MA degrees in economics from Boston University. Read More
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